American progressive rock musician Michael Angelo Batio likes to believe that he has put to rest the dispute about what’s a more invigorating form of music — instrumentals or songs with lyrics.
On his recently concluded India tour through Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai, the guitar maverick — also one of the fastest shredders in the world — ‘sang’ to the audience. However, the only voice heard was that of his double guitar, an invention that helps his fingers smoothly skitter across the fretboard.
“People ask me why I don’t sing, but I do; I’d like to believe my guitar has always sung for me. The instrumental/ lyric debate is old. For me, music speaks louder than words,” he says.
Base in jazz music
Starting out as a Jazz musician, Batio went on to join an LA-based heavy metal band, before becoming a session guitarist. Ever since, he’s only worked on developing his skill in metal. While still a fanatic of the genre, Batio thought of touring India, aware of the fanfare it has here. Now, after performing, he says that his wish has finally been fulfilled. “I loved the reaction of my fans here. It took me a while to get to India, but it was worth it,” he says.
Batio’s previous two albums, Hands Without Shadows and its sequel, featured, for the most part, tributes to such legends of rock as Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Aerosmith. Batio believes that an artist reaches the height of recognition when his work is covered by another artist: “The songs that I chose to play on my album are from some of my favourite bands. And when done my way, the audience instantly recognises it too,” he says.
As one of the fastest guitarists in the world, Batio believes perseverance is the key to good art. Even when extended guitar solos had phased out during the early ’90s, he says he never thought of tweaking his style of music. “Reinvention is a sign of progress, which is good. But all I have ever wanted is to grow as a musician,” he says.